Pope Francis is allowing all priests to forgive abortion permanently, following the end of the Holy Year of Mercy and the closing of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Sunday, November 20th.
The spiritual leader of the Catholic Church extended the special permission he had previously granted for the duration of the Holy Year of Mercy, allowing priests to absolve women of the “grave sin” of abortion. This furthers his ideal of a merciful holy church, having just ended the Holy Year of Mercy to highlight that very virtue.
In an Apostolic Letter, made public by the Vatican on Monday, Francis wrote that:
“There is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled.”
This includes, to Pope Francis and now the church, abortion.
It’s important to note that he also wrote:
“I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life.”
Because of the gravity of such a sin, the Roman Catholic Church had long put the matter of forgiveness of abortion into the hands of a bishop, who could then either hear the woman’s confession or delegate it to an expert priest.
In 2015, however, Francis allowed all priests to grant absolution for the sin of abortion for the duration of the Holy Year of Mercy, which ran from December 8th, 2015, to this past Sunday.
“May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support, and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation.”
Francis wrote, for the faithful who felt they had no choice but to make “this agonizing and painful decision.”
He explained his rationale for the decision:
“Lest any obstacle arise between the request for reconciliation and God’s forgiveness, I henceforth grant to all priests… the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion. The provision I had made in this regard, limited to the duration of the Extraordinary Holy Year, is hereby extended, notwithstanding anything to the contrary.”
This furthers Pope Francis’ vision of a merciful church, including to the faithful women who may have felt there was no other choice for them and are suffering in their faith as a result.